Transgender woman barred from US Open 39 years ago today

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Transgender woman barred from US Open 39 years ago today
Actress Laverne Cox from the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black" arrives at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California U.S., September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
In this June 1, 2015 photo, a journalist looks at Vanity Fair's Twitter site with the Tweet about Caitlyn Jenner, who will be featured on the July cover of the magazine. Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce, on Monday unveiled her new name and look in a sexy Vanity Fair cover shoot -- drawing widespread praise, including from the White House. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners -- and many well-wishers -- welcomed the high-profile debut, as did the 65-year-old Jenner's family, which includes the media-savvy celebrity Kardashian clan. 'I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self,' Jenner wrote in her first tweet after the magazine released the July cover photo by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. AFP PHOTO / MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Writer Janet Mock attends Marie Claire's Second-Annual New Guard Lunch at Hearst Tower on October 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Marie Claire)
Transgender former US Navy Seal Senior Chief Kristin Beck speaks during a conference entitled 'Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe' organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Palm Center in Washington on October 20, 2014. Transgender military personnel from 18 countries who allow them to serve openly, gathered to talk about their experiences and discuss whether the US military could join them. It is estimated that more than 15, 000 transgender personnel currently serve in the US military, but policy requires their separation if they are discovered, according to the ACLU. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 07: Model Gigi Gorgeous attends the NYLON Young Hollywood Party presented by BCBGeneration at HYDE Sunset: Kitchen + Cocktails on May 7, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for NYLON)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Mixed martial artist Fallon Fox attends the 2013 Emery Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Model Lea T presents a creation by Teca by Helo Rocha during the 2016 Summer collections of the Sao Paulo Fashion Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)
Jenna Talackova (R) arrives for a press conference in Los Angeles with her attorner Gloria Allred (out of frame) on April 3, 2012. Canada's Miss Universe pageant said it would allow the transgendered model to compete in its pageant as long as Canada recognizes her gender as a woman. Talackova was previously disqualified, she said, because she used to be male. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Director, writer and producer Lana Wachowski poses on arrival for the Los Angeles Premiere of the film 'Jupiter Ascending' in Hollywood, California on February 2, 2015. The film opens on February 6. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Caitlyn Jenner attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Thirty-nine years ago on August 27, 1976, transgender eye doctor and tennis player Renee Richards was barred from competing in the United States Open tennis tournament. While temporarily defeated, Richards knew she was not going to go down without fight.

Before her transition, this amateur tennis player ranked 13th best nationally in the men's 35-and-over category. A few years later, newly transitioned Renee Richards was accepted into the Tennis Week open by the tournament director.

Renee Richards
The director happened to be a good friend of Richards's, and news of her admission did not go over so well. Twenty female tennis players withdrew from the tournament in protest, arguing that Richards's presence was unfair.

In 1976, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) barred Richards from playing as a woman in the U.S. Open. The USTA said Richards would have to take a chromosomal test, proving she was born a woman (which she would obviously fail).

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Richards did not back down. She sued the USTA in a New York state court, alleging discrimination by gender in violation of the New York Human Rights Law. A year after she was barred, in August of 1977, the Judge ruled in Richards's favor, saying what the USTA did was "grossly unfair, discriminatory and inequitable, and a violation of her rights."

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After her victory inside the courtroom, it was time to win on the court. Richards played professionally from 1977 to 1981, and then retired from tennis to return back to her ophthalmology practice in New York City.

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